It’s impossible to watch Fringe without marveling over how perfectly John Noble brings the character of Walter Bishop to life. Walter is such a tricky character, and a lesser actor would likely fail at portraying his unique blend of lunacy, vulnerability and comic relief. The nutty doctor is the best character on a show that’s shaping up to be a worthy successor to cult classics like Lost and The X-Files.
Now that the first season of Fringe is really kicking into high gear, Noble spoke with the press to drop hints about what’s coming up for his character. He discussed the strained relationship between Walter and Peter, and also revealed an interesting fact about one of his co-stars.
Sometimes it’s the little surprises that make an interview memorable. For example, before hearing Noble speak I had no idea that the actor has a pronounced Australian accent. I also had no clue that Lance Reddick, who plays Agent Broyles on the FOX series, is an accomplished jazz musician.
“He’s a very quiet, dignified man,” Noble said about his co-star. “We started to talk and I suddenly find out that his first degree was in music, and that he’s an active composer and jazz musician, among other things. He’s a man of many parts, but he’s quiet and enigmatic, a very noble man to spend time with.”
Fringe will air three more episodes in 2008 before taking a break for the holiday season. The series will return to FOX on January 20 with a cushy American Idol lead in, which should boost the ratings for the show into the stratosphere. Noble revealed that fans can look forward to plenty of wonderful Walter moments in the next few episodes, though we may see the character take a darker turn.
“We just finished off the final episode that will be going on in December, and there are a lot of Walter moments in there,” he said. “Just him being inappropriate, really. The next episode, which goes on next week, we see Walter from a different angle, very vulnerable. He goes back to the asylum again, and we see the very, very fearful man return for a while. Although he does have some wonderful moments earlier in the episode, when he goes back inside he turns into this incredibly fearful, stuttering fellow that we saw when we first met him. It’s a very interesting journey we see Walter go through.”
Many fans would agree that the father-son dynamic between Walter and Peter is the emotional backbone of the series. Their complicated bond will continue to grow as the season progresses, though there definitely won’t be any Norman Rockwell moments on the horizon.
“From my point of view, and I think Josh Jackson would probably back this up, the thing that has held our interest most so far has been that relationship,” Noble said. “We’ve probably talked more about that, Josh and I, than anything else. We just think it’s beneficial to do that sort of thing, and there’s a responsibility to get it as right as possible. . .It’s not going to turn into any sort of, ‘Oh, now I understand and I know I love you’ time, and then walk away into the sunset. . .But the depths of their relationship will continue to grow, there’s no question about that.”
People who tuned into Fringe looking for Lost-style ongoing story arcs were initially disappointed, though recent episodes like “The Arrival” and “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones” have delved into the deeper mythology of the series. Noble promised that “there’s going to be a growth in the mythology” as the season goes on, but also noted that “it’s not going to be laid all out for everyone to find in one episode.”
With Fringe being one of the first new shows to get a full-season pickup, Noble is hoping his character will be involved in many more bizarre mysteries.
“I think the journey of Fringe has only just started,” he said. “Every energy that I sense around the place is to take this very good show and turn it into a great show. . .I think it’s going to be an amazing ride.”
– Don Williams, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image courtesy of FOX)